Nieuws - 30 mei 2013

Cutting salt intake: 'The Netherlands is lagging behind'

The Dutch meat industry is gong to cut down on salt, putting 10 percent less in its sausages, minced beef and ham. With this plan the sector is at last acting on agreements made years ago with the government. The aim is to cut the salt intake of the Dutch down to 6 grams (it now stands at 9).

Reducing salt intake is important, confirms Marianne Geleijnse, associate professor of Human Nutrition. But the targets have been set too low.
But it is good that the industry is taking up its responsibilities, isn't it?
'The industry is doing something about cutting down on salt, yes, but it is not happening fast enough. To get down to 6 grams a day you have to add 40 percent less salt. Normally the Dutch food industry is progressive but when it comes to reducing salt levels, it is lagging behind. I think it's shameful, really.'
Currently the Dutch still consume about 9 grams of salt a day. Are we succeeding in cutting down?
'The minister informed the parliament in February that there was a reduction of 3 percent in 2012. That is not much and anyway, that estimate is not based on hard data. We are now waiting for the results of urine tests by the RIVM, which really measure whether we are eating less salt.'
Meanwhile a report by the American Institute of Medicine came out saying there is no evidence that it is beneficial to cut down to less than 6 grams - say 4 grams. The Heart Association contests the finding. How can there be such differences of opinion between these institutions?
'This new report only looks at the hard end results of cardio­vascular diseases, such as heart attacks and deaths. The researchers found no evidence that salt intakes of around 4 grams a day were any more beneficial than the advised maximum of 6 grams a day. But the American Heart Association has pointed out that it definitely does help lower blood pressure further. And we know there is a strong link between high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.'
The Dutch nutrition centre advises a maximum of 6 grams of salt a day. What are the implications of the American report for that advice?
'Nothing. The report shows that cutting your intake to that level is beneficial. The discussion is about whether it is beneficial to go even lower than that, but we've got to get down to that 6 grams a day first.'